Supporting information and guidance: Supporting effective clinical supervision

Supporting information and guidance: Supporting effective clinical supervision
Care Quality Commission
July 2013


What is clinical supervision?


Skills for Care (2007) define ‘supervision’ as “an accountable process which supports, assures and develops the knowledge skills and values of an individual group or team”.


In some professions and occupations, alternative titles may be used, such as ‘peer supervision’, ‘developmental supervision’, ‘reflective supervision’ or just ‘supervision’, but generally clinical supervision is seen as complementary to, but separate from, managerial supervision, which is about monitoring and appraising the performance of staff.


The purpose of clinical supervision is to provide a safe and confidential environment for staff to reflect on and discuss their work and their personal and professional responses to their work. The focus is on supporting staff in their personal and professional development and in reflecting on their practice.


Who should receive clinical supervision?


Clinical supervision is often primarily aimed at registered professionals (for example, nurses, doctors, social workers and allied health professionals). 


In services for people with a learning disability or autism, the staff who care for the people using the services should have access to appropriate forms of support, including clinical supervision. This applies to all staff, including those who are not professionally registered.


What are the benefits of clinical supervision for staff?


Clinical supervision has a number of benefits for staff:


It can help staff to manage the personal and professional demands created by the nature of their work. This is particularly important for those who work with people who have complex and challenging needs – clinical supervision provides an environment in which they can explore their own personal and emotional reactions to their work. 
It can allow the member of staff to reflect on and challenge their own practice in a safe and confidential environment. They can also receive feedback on their skills that is separate from managerial considerations. 
It can be one part of their professional development, and also help to identify developmental needs. It can contribute towards meeting requirements of professional bodies and regulatory requirements for continuing professional development (where applicable).


What are the benefits for people who use services and carers?


Clinical supervision can help ensure that people who use services and their carers receive high quality care at all times from staff who are able to manage the personal and emotional impact of their practice. 


What are the benefits for service providers? 


Clinical supervision should be valued within the context of the culture of the organisation, which is crucial in setting the tone, values and behaviours expected of individuals. It should sit alongside good practices in recruitment, induction and training to ensure that staff have the right skills, attitudes and support to provide high quality services.


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